15:05 GMT18 January 2021
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    During the Trump administration's four years, its second state secretary, Mike Pompeo, has not been known for being soft towards Tehran, as he is known to be a "maximum pressure" campaign apologist, with his State Department claiming that Iran is "world's leading state sponsor of terror".

    Outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will deliver a speech on Tuesday, in which it is presumed that he will accuse Iran of links to al-Qaeda*, Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.

    According to the report, Pompeo will refer to newly-declassified intelligence on the killing of al-Qaeda’s suspected second-in-command in Tehran in August. The anonymous sources do not, however, specify how much Pompeo intends to reveal.

    As only eight days remain for Trump in office, Pompeo will purportedly offer details regarding allegations that Iran has given safe haven to al-Qaeda leaders and otherwise supported the terrorist group.

    Biden's advisers believe, as noted by Reuters, that the Trump administration is making efforts to make it difficult for the incoming Cabinet to improve US relations with Iran. According to Reuters, some US officials claimed that more sanctions against the Islamic republic are to come.

    The President-elect, who is mulling the possibility of Washington returning to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), noted that it would only be plausible if "Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal".

    Relations between the countries are still strained, however, as Iran has been targeted by the White House after Trump unilaterally exited the nuclear deal in 2018 and imposed harsh economic sanctions.

    Libyan men hold Al-Qaeda flags while sitting next to an anti-aircraft artillery weapon (File)
    © AFP 2020 / ABDULLAH DOMA
    Libyan men hold Al-Qaeda flags while sitting next to an anti-aircraft artillery weapon (File)

    In alleging ties to al-Qaeda, it would not be the first time the Trump Cabinet accused Tehran of being linked to the Sunni militant group.

    In June 2019, Pompeo sought to convince the US Congress that there was a "pattern" of ties between Iran and the terrorist group dating back to the 11 September, 2001, attacks.

    However, the new Reuters report, citing a "former senior US intelligence official with direct knowledge of the issue", outlined that Tehran was never friendly with al Qaeda before or after the attacks, and any claims of current cooperation should be viewed with caution. 

    When claims emerged in November 2020 that the assassinated Al Qaeda leader was second-in-command chief Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah and that he had been killed in Iran in August, Iran's Foreign Minister immediately dismissed them, insisting that 

    "Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh strongly rejects the presence of any members of this group in Iran and recommends that the American media not follow the Hollywood scenarios of the American and Zionist authorities", the statement from Teharn said.

    *al-Qaeda - a terror group, banned in Russia and many other countries.


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